Florencia Enghel: Prime-time protest? Screening the news coverage of transnational women’s protests in global TV networks (2017-2019).

Welcome to a K3 seminar with Florencia Enghel, Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development and Docent in Media and Communication Studies

The title of the talk is:

Prime-time protest? Screening the news coverage of transnational women’s protests in global TV networks (2017-2019).

It will take place on Wednesday, October 30 at 10.15-12.00 in The K3 Open Studio, NIC 0541, Niagara.

Below you will find an abstract for the talk.

On 8 March 2017, 2018 and 2019, women’s protests were held in various parts of the world to coincide with International Women’s Day. These actions were spurred to a significant extent by Latin American feminist collectives that have mobilized regularly since late 2015, seeking to coordinate efforts regionally and internationally within a framework of transnational solidarity (Campillo, 2018; Król & Pustułka, 2018). Emerging studies suggest that protests have been profusely documented by activists themselves via social media and covered in varying ways by national news outlets (Matos, 2019). But have they been televised globally? Based on footage from the flagship news programs of eight global newsrooms (BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Euronews, France24, Al Jazeera, Russia Today and China Central Television), I analyse how the protests, which have grown in extent and in digital/local visibility, were covered by international TV networks news year-on-year.

Although the prime-time news broadcasts of global television networks are arguably one among other sites where meaning regarding protest movements is produced and circulated in digital times, understanding how these outlets have recorded and represented the international women’s strike in the past 3 years is nonetheless important given their sustained symbolic power. Moreover, unpacking their politics of representation regarding ongoing women’s struggles can serve to inform the strategic design of counter-strategies for the feminist movement to strengthen its appeal for international solidarity (Sarikakis & Shaed, 2007; Gallagher, 2014).

To this effect, this study takes a qualitative descriptive-interpretative approach. Building on the analytical framework developed by the Robertson (2018), I screen the 2017-2019 data in three senses: 1) by focusing on representations of women’s protest on television screens; 2) by comparing coverage across global broadcasters, identifying which (and how) made the protest visible and which screened it out, as well as similarities and differences in their journalistic narratives; and 3) by providing insights into how global TV networks are meeting (or failing to meet) the challenge of representing the increasing number of women who find that political representation has failed them, and are taking to the streets of the world to seek justice (Fraser, 2008).

Developed with data provided by the Screening Protest Project (funded by the Swedish Research Council and based at Stockholm University’s Dept. of Media in Sweden; see http://screeningprotest.com/), the study contributes to updating existing indicators for the analysis of gender portrayals in the news (in particular by problematizing earlier propositions according to which misrepresentation could be addressed by incorporating female journalists into newsrooms) and examines how the prime-time coverage of global TV news networks between 2017 and 2019 may have promoted or hindered greater understanding of, and solidarity with, the claims of women’s movements.


Campillo, Inés (2019) ‘If we stop, the world stops’: the 2018 feminist strike in Spain. Social Movement Studies, 18:2, 252-258, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2018.1556092

Fraser, Nancy (2008) Scales of Justice / Reimagining Political Space in a Globalized World Polity Press, Cambridge

Gallagher, Margaret (2014) “Reframing Communication Rights: Why Gender Matters” in Padovani, Claudia and Calabrese, Andrew (2014) Communication Rights and Social Justice. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Król, Agnieszka & Pustułka, Paula (2018) Women on strike: mobilizing against reproductive injustice in Poland. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 20:3, 366-384, DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1460214  

Matos, Carolina (2019) Feminist Media Studies Across Borders: Re-visiting Studies within the Brazilian National Context. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 20(2), 11-25.

Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol20/iss2/2

Robertson, Alexa (ed.) (2018) Screening protest. London: Routledge.

Sarikakis, Katharine and Shade, Leslie (2007) Feminist Interventions in International Communication: Minding the Gap. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

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